In this blow we hear how after one of the wettest winters on record how it was restored. l hope you find the FLOOD DAMAGE AND RENOVATIONS PROJECT blog interesting.
Hello, my name is Chris Geere and I am currently in charge of Sussex Crickets Academy Ground, as senior groundsman. The facility comprises of two grounds and an enclosed grass net area which are used by all the Sussex cricket age groups, boys and girls ranging from 9 to 18 as well as Sussex 2nd XI fixtures.
Happy New Year!
I came into work after the Christmas holidays to find that both the outfields were on their arse (that is a technical term honest.) The grass was looking very thin, yellow and wilting. As it had done nothing but rain since the beginning of October, I thought it was possibly just a lack of oxygen available in the very heavy natural clay soil.
When it stops raining, I thought l would be able to get some spike holes and slit lines into it as well as cut it which will get the grass growing and thickening again. So, I wasn’t too worried at the beginning. Unfortunately, it rained, rained again and then rained some more. By the time we were into the beginning of February there were large areas of both outfields that had no grass or very weak dying grass. I would say that roughly 50% of the 2 outfields had lost their grass cover.
We were not sure what was causing this, and we are still not a 100% sure but, we believe the reason was that the sheer volume of rain we had in the winter had disturbed the thatch layer underneath. This thatch layer had nowhere to go but up to the top of the surface and it just sat there and created like a black film on top, which just killed all the grass it covered.
Aeration and Lessons Learnt
In late February we hired the air 2G2 for a week to try and get some oxygen into the soil structure. The ground conditions were probably too wet, and I am not sure how effective it was although I am a big fan of the machine. With the advice of the then Head Groundsman of Sussex Andy Mackay we came up with a plan of works to get the grounds up and running for the fast-approaching new season (or so we thought at the time)
We decided on hollow coring to a depth of 2 inches (50 mm) on the main outfield (this is the depth of thatch), we then seeded both outfields at a seed rate of roughly 30 grams a square meter. Heavier on the worst areas and top-dressed with 50 tonnes of washed sports sand on the main outfield and 10 tonnes on the small outfield, we then granular fertilised at 35 grams a square meter.
More Weather Frustrations
We originally had this booked in for the first Monday in April but then the lock down happened, and we ended up delaying it for a month. It was eventually started a month later, the first week in May. Although it hardly rained from the beginning of March for about 3 months, it decided to rain the one week we didn’t want it too. As a result, the renovations took longer than we and the busy contractors had anticipated.
The whole project came in at almost exactly £7000. We applied and were successful in getting a £5000 flood damage grant from Sport England, so the club only had to find £2000.As I said earlier, we hardly had any rain during the spring, luckily we can irrigate the big outfield, but we have no way of doing so on the small outfield and because of this it came up a bit patchy.
Slow Progress-But Progress
The outfields haven’t come back amazingly, there is a lot of stalky weed grass in both outfields and they certainly don’t look as good as in previous years. However, the end result is they can play cricket on them and this looked a long way from being possible in March.
We are hoping to do more extensive work to the main ground in the autumn, finances allowing as we do not want a repeat of last year happening again, with the winters seeming to be getting milder and wetter this is a distinct possibility.